Working across the Welsh speaking and rural strongholds of Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Carmarthen, the Arfor scheme’s aim was to develop economical interventions that would have a positive impact on many Welsh speakers and the viability of the Welsh language. With many people, mainly young people, leaving their local areas to seek better employment opportunities elsewhere, the scheme was a bid to counteract this issue, to create not only more jobs but better jobs. The prospect for Welsh speakers to live and work in their communities, pursuing meaningful careers, would present a greater opportunity for the Welsh language to thrive.
Has the scheme been successful to date?
An evaluation report for phase one has identified that the scheme has created 238 full time jobs, 89 part time jobs and has safeguarded a further 226 full time jobs. The report also states that the scheme has supported 154 existing/new businesses. A number of key lessons have also been identified. Key recommendations include:
1. There is a need to better understand the relationship between the economy and the language – in particular, the concept of ‘better jobs’ in the area and the potential to affect migration. Any future programme should include more investment into research, monitoring and evaluation over an extended period of time. A better understanding of the interaction between economic factors and basic and structural factors should also be developed.
2. Any future programme should be undertaken over a longer period, allowing more time for planning and providing services that are integrated with mainstream business development and language support enterprises.
3. Innovation and trialling ideas have been an integral part of the programme until now, and should continue as such in any future programme, but with a clearly defined path to upskilling and /or successful mainstream activities.
4. The possible benefit of integrating support for business development and developing the use of the language in businesses is evident.
5. The programme has highlighted the possible effect of supporting young people to establish and develop enterprises, and through this, increasing the probability of keeping them in their local areas and influencing their contemporaries, that could be a key part of any programme in the future.
6. Working together and sharing best practice have been the key characteristics of the programme and they are appreciated by all of the partners. Any future programme should ensure there are enough resources to further support, facilitate and initiate working together between the existing partners, with the intention of expanding the range of partners in question.
Read the full report findings below: